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FOLK SONGS AND BALLADS

LECTURE 4. ENGLISH LITERATURE IN THE 15TH CENTURY

THE WARS OF THE ROSES

The death of Chaucer was a great blow to English poetry. It took two centuries to produce a poet equal to him. The Hundred Years' War ended, but another misfortune befell the country: a feudal war broke out between the descendants of Edward III in the 15th century.

When the English were completely driven out of France by 1453, the Yorkists (сторонники …оркширской династии) took up arms against the Lancastrians (сторонники Ћанкастерской династии), and in 1455 the Wars of the Roses began.

It was a feudal war between the big barons of the House of Lancaster and merchants of the House of York. The former wished to continue the war with France and to seize the lands of other people thus increasing their land possessions and the lesser barons. The latter wanted to give up fighting in France, as it was too expensive for them. The Yorkists had a white rose in their coat of arms, and the Lancastrians had a red rose in their coat of arms, hence the name of the war.

When the Wars of the Roses ended in 1485, Henry VII was proclaimed King of England. The reign of the Tudors was the beginning of an absolute monarchy in England, and at the same time, it helped to do away with feudal fighting once and for all.

 

FOLK SONGS AND BALLADS

Though there was hardly any written literature in England in the 15th century, folk poetry flourished in England and Scotland. Folk songs were heard everywhere. Songs were made up for every occasion. There were harvest songs, mowing songs, spinning and weaving songs, etc.

The best of folk poetry were the ballads. A ballad is a short narrative in verse with the refrain following each stanza. The refrain was always one and the same. Ballads were often accompanied by musical instruments and dancing. They became the most popular form of amusement. Some ballads could be performed by several people because they consisted of dialogues.

There were various kinds of ballads: historical, legendary, fantastical, lyrical and humorous. The ballads passed from generation to generation through the centuries Ч that's why there are several versions of the same ballads. So about 305 ballads have more than a thousand versions.

The most popular ballads were those about Robin Hood.

The art of printing did not stop the development of folk songs and ballads. They continued to appear until the 18th century when they were collected and printed. The common people of England expressed their feelings in popular ballads.

 


Date: 2016-03-03; view: 1920


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